Author. Innovationist. Advocate. Survivor. Rebel.
Growing up in Poland, I swam in the Baltic Sea at 50F, stayed in villages that still used oil lamps, and yearned for oranges, which were available only at Christmas time. I was surrounded by music from an early age and almost became a pianist. An unruly child, I got in trouble for giving friends haircuts with nail scissors, talking in class, and trying to set a toilet on fire. From a tiny apartment in the center of Warsaw (think family of four in 380 square feet), I witnessed communist tanks pointed at people and survived a violent military coup.
My love of languages and cultures lured me to America with one backpack and a few dollars to my name, but what sealed my stay was the love of my boyfriend-turned-husband, a political refugee who had dared speak truth to power as a journalist in Poland.
After a brief stint making hoagies and being a dental assistant, I landed a job as a medical translator and got a graduate degree at Penn. This opened the door to corporate America where, eventually, I discovered life in the fast lane.
For two decades, I raised three wonderful kids, flew the world over, advised CEOs, and helped design treatments for incurable diseases. But the higher I climbed the slippery corporate ladder, the more I felt I was living someone else’s life. Constrained by political correctness and designer attire, I fantasized about creative writing.
One day in 2008, I was told I had six months to live, courtesy of a vicious GI cancer with terrible survival statistics. For the next five years, I fought seven relapses, disposed of several organs, and experimented on myself due to lack of relevant treatment guidelines. Miraculously, I was declared healthy three years ago and am among the 1% of survivors for this type of cancer. This prolonged tête-à-tête helped me clarify what's important: I had started to write short stories from the chemotherapy chair.
I enjoy writing essays about people and places, with all of their quirks and beauty: from sleepy Polish villages to bustling urban beehives; from tango addicts to animal hoarders; from salt-of-the-earth women in flowery babushkas to starchy executives at their mahogany desks. I also write op-eds and advocacy pieces on topics close to my heart.
I am currently working on a book, 50 Deeds, about a year-long project of hard-earned gratitude, prompted by a promise made to my oldest son.